Playing a computer game during lunch affects fullness, memory for lunch, and later snack intake

Am J Clin Nutr. 2011 Feb;93(2):308-13. doi: 10.3945/ajcn.110.004580. Epub 2010 Dec 8.


Background: The presence of distracting stimuli during eating increases the meal size and could thereby contribute to overeating and obesity. However, the effects of within-meal distraction on later food intake are less clear.

Objective: We sought to test the hypothesis that distraction inhibits memory encoding for a meal, which, in turn, increases later food intake.

Design: The current study assessed the effects of playing solitaire (a computerized card-sorting game) during a fixed lunch, which was eaten at a fixed rate, on memory for lunch and food intake in a taste test 30 min later. A between-subjects design was used with 44 participants. Participants in the no-distraction group ate the same lunch in the absence of any distracting stimuli.

Results: Distracted individuals were less full after lunch, and they ate significantly more biscuits in the taste test than did nondistracted participants (mean intake: 52.1 compared with 27.1 g; P = 0.017). Furthermore, serial-order memory for the presentation of the 9 lunch items was less accurate in participants who had been distracted during lunch.

Conclusions: These findings provide further evidence that distraction during one meal has the capacity to influence subsequent eating. They may also help to explain the well-documented association between sedentary screen-time activities and overweight.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Attention*
  • Bread
  • Child
  • Computers
  • Diet*
  • Energy Intake*
  • Feeding Behavior*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Memory*
  • Middle Aged
  • Motor Activity
  • Obesity / etiology*
  • Obesity / psychology
  • Satiation*
  • Sedentary Behavior
  • Young Adult